Alderson thing

Notes from the Sandy Alderson press conference

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The Mets just introduced Sandy Alderson as their new general manager a short while ago. A few items of interest…

  • It’s true, Alderson slipped up and began to say Oakland when describing the Mets’ GM job as the “best job in baseball.” A rough start, but it didn’t take him long to melt my nerd heart.
  • When describing his own personal philosophy, Alderson said: “The mathematics, I don’t believe, lie.” He believes metrics like on-base percentage and slugging are important in valuing a player. Also places an emphasis on speed and power. *ears perking up*
  • In talking about the team’s farm system, Alderson views the Mets somewhere in the middle of the pack. He doesn’t believe a large-market team like the Mets should ever be in the middle of the pack in player development. I wonder if his relationship with the commissioner’s office may influence his willingness to go overslot in the draft, but I sure hope there are at least some changes there.
  • Alderson said he has no plans “in the immediate future” to change the dimensions of Citi Field.
  • In regards to hiring a new manager, Alderson specifically said he wasn’t opposed to a “fiery” manager, reflecting the emotions of the fanbase, but also wants a manager to be analytical and intuitive. While he wants this person to have a independence on the field, that individual must also reflect the general philosophy of the organization. In other words, while Wally Backman may get an interview, don’t look for Bobby V to return. Knowing Sandy, that is to be expected.
  • Responding to a question about some of the dead weight on the roster — specifically Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo — Alderson said that in some instances he will make decisions, in others he will make recommendations (to ownership). He also isn’t willing to write off any asset just because of public opinion.
  • When asked if 2011 will be a “caretaker year,” Alderson said he plans to put the best possible team on the field, even with the limited payroll flexibility. He hopes to put the Mets in the position where they can be aggressive in the market every offseason, but doesn’t see that happening this winter.

There’s a lot to digest here, but my first impression is a very positive one. Alderson came across as very intelligent, thoughtful and frankly, inspiring. Mets fans have become cynical over the past few seasons, but there’s a real reason for optimism about the team’s long-term plan this afternoon.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.